House Floor Actions
March 6, 2023
The House gave second reading approval to H. 4088, a joint resolution appropriating $1.2 billion from the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Contingency Reserve Fund and $86 million from the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 projected general fund surplus for infrastructure funding to foster economic development. The legislation facilitates Project Connect, the construction of a manufacturing facility near Blythewood, in Richland County, by Scout Motors, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, to produce electric trucks and sport utility vehicles. The Department of Commerce is appropriated $1 billion to provide funding to Project Connect for: (1) road access and improvements, including a new interchange on Interstate Highway 77; (2) water and wastewater infrastructure; (3) required site improvements and mitigation; (4) a railroad bridge over I-77 to support rail spur construction; (5) a training center run by Midlands Technical College to train workers for the manufacturing facility; (6) land acquisition; (7) soil stabilization; and (8) other necessary purposes as recommended by the Department of Commerce for Project Connect, subject to review and comment by the Joint Bond Review Committee. Provisions are made for a $200 million loan for additional soil stabilization that is not eligible for forgiveness and must be paid back to the state.
H. 4300, the General Appropriation Bill, and H. 4301, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, were set for special order to accommodate consideration of the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 State Government Budget on the House Floor during the week beginning on Monday, March 13 at 1 PM.
The House passed, and sent to the Senate, H. 3014 the “Clementa C. Pickney Hate Crimes Act.” It was proposed in memory of deceased State Senator and Reverend, Clementa C. Pinckney, who, along with his fellow Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church congregation members, were shot and killed during a religious gathering in 2015. This bill would create an opportunity for criminal courts to impose additional penalties of not more than $10,000 and additional jail time of up to five years on defendants who targeted their victims based on the perpetrator’s perception—whether correct or not—of the victim’s race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. This additional sentence would be contingent upon these defendants first being convicted of the underlying crime they committed when they targeted these victims.
The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3726, the “Statewide Education and Workforce Development Act.” Drawing upon the work of the Ad Hoc Committee for Economic Development and Utility Modernization appointed by the Speaker of the House, the legislation makes comprehensive revisions geared towards realizing South Carolina’s full workforce potential by implementing initiatives to coordinate and make the most of all publicly funded job training, scholarships, apprenticeship programs, and other workforce development services. To provide centralized oversight of all services, the Office of Statewide Workforce Development (OSWD) is created in the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) to coordinate, align, and direct workforce efforts throughout the state to maximize available resources, enhance accountability and transparency, and actively foster a customer‑centric workforce development system that is readily accessible, highly effective, and easily understandable. The Director of the OSWD is hired by the Executive Director of the Department of Employment and Workforce and serves at his pleasure. All functions, powers, and duties of the Department of Commerce relating to the former Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council are transferred to the Department of Employment and Workforce to provide for a reconstituted and expanded Coordinating Council for Workforce Development (CCWD) made up of representatives from pertinent state agencies, legislative committees, K-12 public education, higher education, technical and comprehensive education, and private sector employers ranging from largescale to small businesses. The legislation provides for an executive committee of the CCWD, composed of the heads of key state agencies and appointees of legislative leadership. The CCWD is charged with formulating and updating a comprehensive Unified State Plan (USP) that provides a systemwide approach to streamline and unify efforts of all those involved in education and workforce development in the South Carolina. The plan must be formulated using time‑sensitive metrics including educational attainment and labor participation rate targets. A dashboard must be developed to enable the public to monitor and track progress of the USP.
The legislation requires all state and local government agencies, nonprofit groups, and quasi‑governmental groups that are appropriated state funds or are authorized to expend federal funds to make annual reports to the Director of OSWD and to provide information requested by OSWD prior to the Comptroller General approving release of funds to ensure proper reporting on any activities that may be workforce development related. An annual report detailing all funds used for workforce development projects must, in turn, be submitted to the Governor, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
The legislation revises requirements for employers to make Unemployment Trust Fund contribution and wage reports to the Department of Employment and Workforce by expanding reporting requirements to include more employers and providing for more detailed reports that include Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes and total number of hours worked.
The duties of the CCWD and the Office of Statewide Workforce Development include the creation and maintenance of an Education and Workforce Portal to provide South Carolinians with information critical to their lifelong educational journey, including: (a) an “Educational Program Alignment Toolkit” that serves as an infrastructure of resources to enable the K‑12, technical college, and higher education systems to individually and collectively ensure their respective educational curriculum, initiatives, and programming match workforce needs; (b) a “Career Pathways Tool” that uses applicable occupational data, educational programming, workforce needs, salary information, job market analyses, in-demand occupations, and other information to provide students, parents of students, job seekers, educators, and counselors, with useful information about potential career pathways and the various routes to meaningful employment; (c) real-time labor market information; (d) comprehensive inventory of all education and training assets in the state; and (e) global view of workforce‑related program data including federal, state, and local education and training options and opportunities.
The legislation provides for regional workforce advisors, overseen by the OSWD, who are charged with coordinating and facilitating the delivery of information, resources, and services to students, educators, employers, and the community within their geographic areas of responsibility.
The CCWD and the Office of Statewide Workforce Development are charged with studying and making recommendations to address barriers to labor participation, such as affordable access to childcare and transportation. The CCWD and the Office of Statewide Workforce Development are responsible for providing individuals who are receiving assistance from public benefit programs with the supports, skills, and credentials they need to gain and retain employment in occupations for which employers demonstrate persistent demands. This includes a “SC Benefits calculator” to help families, case managers, and community providers understand the impact of earnings and assist families planning their exit from the use of these public benefits, with the goal of promoting self‑sufficiency and maximizing use of available opportunities.
The CCWD is directed to coordinate with the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs to develop and implement procedures that connect active-duty military spouses, family members, veterans, and military retirees to job opportunities and career support.
The executive committee of the CCWD may recommend the appropriate actions necessary to eliminate duplicative programs and workforce activities that do not further the USP, improve programs not meeting stated performance targets, and, when necessary and to the extent not prohibited in law, recommend the discontinuation of programs that repeatedly do not meet targets or may no longer be needed. The CCWD is charged with meeting regularly with industry associations to gain an understanding of their workforce needs and ideas and producing an annual statewide workforce and education supply gap analysis of what skills should be developed to meet demand. The CCWD is directed to make recommendations to the General Assembly on how the state of South Carolina could marshal its workforce development resources more effectively.
The House also passed, and the Senate will be receiving, H. 3019, Expunging Mistaken Identity Arrests and Other Mandatory Expungements. Anyone arrested for a crime they did not commit, and who was arrested because their identity was mistaken, would be entitled to a no-fee expungement of their arrest records within 180 days of the discovery of the mistaken identity. In addition, if no trial is conducted, or no guilty plea is entered, within five years’ time of an arrest for third degree assault and battery [i.e. simple assault and battery], public intoxication or disorderly conduct, breach of trust, open container in a motor vehicle, trespassing, fraudulent check, misdemeanor shoplifting, driving under suspension, or a simple possession of marijuana charge, the person who was arrested will receive approval from the circuit solicitor for its dismissal, expungement, and destruction of all related records. SLED would have to be informed of these dismissal and expungement approvals. Anyone failing to follow these requirements would be subject to contempt of court citations.
The House also sent the Senate, H. 3204 proposed legislation to specify Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact Commission [PSYPACT] Dispute Resolution jurisdiction. For South Carolina to participate in this compact, the United States District Court for Georgia is the required entity for handling any PSYPACT dispute resolutions. This commission is charged with oversight of the professional work performed by therapists licensed in other states who counsel, or otherwise treat, patients who do not live in those licensing states. It was created to provide this oversight so that participating nonresident telepsychology therapists would not have to become licensed here before treating South Carolina patients.
The Senate is also receiving from the House, H. 3866, a proposal to clarify the South Carolina Attorney General’s Role in Litigation Pursued in South Carolina’s Interest. When the Attorney General brings litigation in South Carolina’s interest on behalf of a state agency, this bill sets forth that he would be doing so not as the lawyer for that agency, or its staff. In addition, he would not be considered the holder of any records or other agency documents that relate to the lawsuit that is brought. Unfair trade practice suits filed by the Attorney General would not be considered brought by South Carolina’s State Department of Consumer Affairs, or other state agency, unless they are named in these pending lawsuits as a party, should this proposal be enacted. As amended, in these cases he can return any produced documents back over to the producing parties instead of keeping them for a lengthy time–as current law requires him to do, destroy them, or retain these documents in compliance with state records retention policies.
Also sent to the Senate was H. 3890, legislation proposed to facilitate Youthful Offender Driving Under Suspension Conviction Expungements. Youthful offenders convicted of driving under suspension would be able to expunge these convictions after they meet specified prerequisites. These include having no other in-state or out-of-state convictions during their service of a youthful offender sentence including probation and parole or during the five‑year period following completion of their youthful offender sentence, also including probation and parole time.
The Senate now has, for its consideration and debate, H. 3925 a bill to add South Carolina’s Attorney General as a Prosecution Coordination Commission member. It would add the Attorney General as a member of the South Carolina Commission on Prosecution Coordination, delete Commission responsibility for providing blank indictments to circuit solicitors, and remove staggered terms for initial Commission appointees.
H. 3750 (DOT Projects) was approved by the House and sent to the Senate. The bill adds “planning for repairs to bridges, highways, roads, and other improvements on the state’s rights of way” to the list of exemptions from the state procurement code. This would allow the Department of Transportation greater flexibility.
H. 3360 (Center for School Safety) was approved by the House and sent to the Senate. The bill outlines the establishment of the Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence within the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The purpose of the center is to provide training, education, and expertise in the areas of school safety and targeted violence. SLED is responsible for adopting guidelines and procedures for training and educating law enforcement, school personnel, parents, and the public on school safety and targeted violence. SLED may also incorporate personnel from various departments within the organization as assigned by the Chief of SLED. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor and is contingent upon funding in the General Appropriations Act.
S. 361 (DOT Construction Contracts) was approved by the House and sent to the Senate. S. 361 would remove the requirement for preapproval of construction contract extensions by the DOT Commission. Instead, it would require that the Commission ratify any extensions to construction contracts at their next scheduled meeting.